Outstanding Hilltop Location For Sale
By Andrew Frame

Whether you call it “Scinde Island,” or by the more common trio, from west to east, of “Hospital Hill,” “Napier Hill” and “Bluff Hill,” Napier’s hill is a focal point in an otherwise flat city. It shines like a crown in the night when you approach Napier from Bay View or along the Expressway, a glittering welcome to the weary traveler.

Beloved and I walk to and from Napier’s CBD a lot. We also go for the occasional walk over the hill. It’s good exercise; there are some wonderful views and some very flash homes. We often play “If I won Lotto, I’d buy that place” on our walks. I can see myself living “la dolce vita” high above the rest of Napier. In fact, I spent the first few weeks of my life living there in McHardy (maternity) Home – now McHardy Lodge – a luxury bed & breakfast. So, it would be a welcome return – especially without the nappies, crying and jaundice this time.

One particular house in Havelock Road has always caught my eye. It has a deck with a priceless 180 degree view from Marine Parade all the way out to Hastings and beyond. It would appear the house’s owner agrees with me, as I’ve seen what the price tag is for such a view, with house attached, and it explains why it has been unsold on the market for over two years.

But I think I found somewhere even better just around the corner from there while surfing through Trade Me today:

“Outstanding hilltop location offering 360 degree city and ocean views in high value inner residential suburb, enjoying easy access to Napier city shopping, Ahuriri amenities, schooling and immediately adjacent to parks and reserves.”

Sounds promising, doesn’t it? But I think it’s probably a little out of my price range. With a floor area of 21,427m2 you could have a good-sized living and entertaining area, several bedrooms and bathrooms, an Olympic sized indoor heated swimming pool (or three), your own full-sized gym, shopping mall and still have enough room for a scale model train room big enough to run full-scale trains.

That’s just the beginning. The sale includes 49,500m2 of land as well. Sure, it would take months to mow the lawn, but there would be enough room for your very own tennis court, running track, cricket pitch and helipad. Heck, you could just about have your very own airfield!

Almost too good to be true, isn’t it? When everyone is sub-dividing or building apartments that defy the laws of physics and hang for dear life onto the side of cliffs, this massive estate comes up for sale on the hill.

That’s because the property for sale is the former Napier Hospital site.

If Napier’s hill is a crown, then the hospital site is surely now the empty fitting where one of its proudest jewels once resided, visible for miles around. So many Hawke’s Bay lives began and ended at Napier Hospital. Thousands of people experienced pain, relief, happiness and sadness there. But for more than a decade now, it has been a reminder of how politicking and bureaucracy can go wrong. And now it’s being advertised on Trade Me.

I still cannot see the sense in having a city as large as Napier without its own fully operational hospital. My main concern was always in the event of a major disaster, such as the 1931 earthquake; there is no way out of Napier to Hastings and the regional hospital without crossing at least one bridge – not one of the most secure structures where tectonic physics are involved. Without easy access to immediate medical care in these events, there is tragedy in the making. I remember going to the protest against shutting the hospital down at McLean Park in the mid-1990’s. The promises, debating, closure, treaty claims, court rulings, appeals, sales and failed deals. Throughout it all, the building has remained.

I do think now, as much as Napier residents may wish, in its current state, the old site will never be a hospital again. The repair costs alone would be astronomical.

The greatest shame for me is how the hospital site has just been left to decay throughout all the political and legal wrangling. Once a hub of activity, it is now a ghost-town, its main block now looking like something out of cold war Eastern Europe. Empty and boarded-up, with broken windows and random spots of graffiti. Parts of it have caught fire and the army and police have even used it for suburban and indoor tactical training – DIY explosive renovations. The place has been left to suffer. Publicly, visually, financially and legally suffer.

When the closure was announced, or even proposed, alternative uses for the site should have been put into effect. The hilltop site dealt with quickly, effectively and humanely. “Put out of its misery” so to speak, although I’m unsure of the legality and issues behind architectural euthanasia. The litigation side must also have come as no surprise and should have been dealt with swiftly and effectively, not gone on and on as it has.

Now, almost as a final insult it is listed on an online auction site alongside cars, clothes, sporting goods and thousands of other unwanted items. This is not the ending Napier’s Hospital deserved.

View the actual TradeMe listing for the Napier Hospital site at this link.

Andrew Frame

P.S. Check out the new BayBuzz website this weekend!

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  1. Whether you call it “Scinde Island,” or by the more common trio, from west to east, of “Hospital Hill,” “Napier Hill” and “Bluff Hill,”

    I think the original names sounds best!


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